Steve Heisler

Teacher Author Speaker


"Every single child wants to be successful. The problem is, if they can't be successful at being successful, they'll be successful at screwing up. Our job as educators is to change the latter to the former."    

- from the The Missing Link by Steve Heisler

How will you vote on your school budget?

It would be great if we got to vote directly on corporate welfare payments, the military budget, or any other of the millions of ways public money is disbursed. Alas, in New Jersey, the only tax we get a direct vote on is the school tax.

Unfortunately this can sometimes make school budgets the unwarranted recipient of more generalized taxation and public servant angers. 

In the community where I live there is often much dissension regarding the school budget in large part based on the fact that a significant percentage of the public does not even use the school. Many send their children to private, parochial or charter schools and another significant portion of our population has aged out of the schools: their children long ago graduated. However my view is that persons who vote their own narrow needs when voting against a school budget are voting unethically.

When it comes to voting for the school budgets, there is only one reason to vote for or against it and it has nothing to do with whether you or your children use the schools. If the budgets reflects the genuine needs of the schools, regardless of how you feel about the teachers, administrators  board members or even the schools, you must vote for it. If it doesn't, say for instance it squanders cash on a current technological fad not driven by thoughtful long term goals, vote against it.

I have struggled myself with just such a decisions. I have chosen to vote against budgets that seemed based on shoddy thinking, but I have also held my nose while voting for budgets because, though I may not have agreed with the decisions on how the money is spent, the decision making process seemed sound.The role of any individual in the community, and most religious and ethical thinking support this, is that sometimes we must vote against self-interest in order to be a good neighbor. To do anything less would seem a dereliction of moral duty regardless of which religious and political affiliation to which you are ascribed. How to be a good neighbor is among the higher questions we are ever called to answer